Effects of Estrogen on Bacterial Clearance and Neutrophil Response After Combined Burn Injury and Wound Infection

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Females have a higher rate of mortality following burn injury, largely due to differences in sepsis-related mortality. The present study seeks to understand the underpinnings of the estrogen’s immunomodulatory effects in a murine model of burn injury and infection. Gonad-intact and ovariectomized female mice were subjected to a 15% total BSA scald injury and then inoculated with 3000 CFU of Pseudomonas aeruginosa by topical application to the wound. Animals were killed at 1, 2, or 7 days after injury. Tissue and whole blood were collected. Cultures were performed of all tissues to assess for bacteria content. Lungs were examined for histologic appearance and homogenates were analyzed for chemokines and myeloperoxidase activity. Mortality reached 95% by 3 days after injury for gonad intact mice, whereas in ovariectomized mice it was 76% at 7 days. Blood and tissue samples from gonad intact mice had significantly higher levels of P. aeruginosa compared with ovariectomized mice. Histologic assessment of lungs demonstrated a similar overall cellularity in ovariectomized mice relative to gonad intact mice 1 day after injury, but increased neutrophil count in gonad intact mice. This correlated with chemotactic signaling as lung homogenates had lower levels of KC in ovariectomized mice (128.0 ± 19.8 vs 48.3 ± 5.7 pg/mg protein). Also, myeloperoxidase was significantly lower in lung homogenates of ovariectomized mice (1.12 ± 0.34 vs 0.56 ± 0.08 units/mg protein). Ovariectomy confers an early, but brief survival advantage in female mice after burn injury and wound infection. This appears to be secondary to enhanced bacterial clearance.

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